Leeds Building Society savings balances top £13bn

Leeds Building Society CEO Peter Hill

Leeds Building Society said its savings balances increased by a record £1.9 billion in 2017 and now exceed £13 billion.

Leeds said it had strong net mortgage lending of £1.8 billion in 2017, with total mortgage balances up 13% to £15.2 billion.

The building society said it made record profit before tax of £120.9 million, up from £116.6 million in 2016.

Leeds had assets of £18.5 billion at December 31, 2017, up from £15.9 billion a year earlier.

“Savings and mortgage balances, membership numbers and assets are all at record levels as we continue to grow sustainably and invest for the long-term benefit of the Society,” said Leeds CEO Peter Hill.

Leeds said it helped more than 50,000 more people own a home in 2017, including 13,000 first time buyers, and that it had strong membership growth, taking its total members above 796,000, the highest in its history.

Hill added: “As a member-owned building society, we work hard to balance the needs of savers and borrowers.

“In October last year we bucked the trend by increasing the current minimum rate paid to all our savings members to 0.50%, when many of our competitors were cutting rates.

“We became the first high street financial services provider to pay this minimum rate across both ISAs and non-ISAs, a step we took before the Bank of England increased Base Rate for the first time in more than a decade.

As a result, we paid an average 1.33% to our savers compared to the rest of market average of 0.70%, which equates to an annual benefit to our savers of £75 million.

“Our support for savers was recognised by independent comparison site Moneyfacts with the ‘Best Building Society Savings Provider’ award for the second year running.

“Our strong savings performance enabled us to keep growing our lending and focus on mainstream borrowers as well as key segments including Shared Ownership, Affordable Housing, Help to Buy and Interest Only.

 “We helped a record 13,000 people buy their first home and our consistent approach to supporting borrowers less well-served by the wider market led to the accolade of ‘Best Shared Ownership Lender’ for the second consecutive year from What Mortgage Magazine ..

“Our successful mortgage strategy and improved underwriting processes have supported sustained lending growth in recent years which, combined with a further reduction in loss charges, helped us achieve a record profit before tax of £120.9 million.

 “The right level of profit is essential to the success of a mutual and our profit in 2017 enabled us to increase our capital to £988 million and maintain strong levels of Common Equity Tier 1 and Leverage ratios, well above the regulatory minimum requirements.

“Uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the EU remains. We also expect 2017’s tough competition, particularly in the mortgage market, to continue and this is likely to put downward pressure on our net interest margin during this year and into 2019.

“However our robust 2017 performance means we’re well-placed to withstand economic uncertainty, protect our members’ money and keep growing sustainably.”